Funerals in Qatar
My friend was young to die. He left behind him brothers, a father, a grandfather: the last a man who had travelled by camel in the desert fifty years or more before. Like seventy percent of the youth who die in Qatar, my friend was killed in a car accident. Yet when I arrived at the house of the deceased, the atmosphere was solemn but no noise of grief was heard.
This was properly Islamic while crying is allowed, Islam discourages wailing and beating of the breasts. Whether the atmosphere was the same with the women, I cannot say, for we were segregated completely. The usual segregation is taken further at the time of a funeral, for the women do not accompany the body to the burial, even if the deceased is a women.
When a person dies in Qatar, or the brother or relative of a friend dies, it is important to pay respect. When you pay respect, men should go with men, women with women there will be different rooms for each.
This showing of support and solidarity is perhaps more important than in the West, where some people require privacy to deal with their grief. Here, grief, as is life, is communal.
At these times, an appropriate way to express your sympathy is to say Athamah All'ah Ajakum which is equivalent to our My deepest condolences. Hands will be shaken - Arabs may kiss or touch their noses and you will be shown to the Majelis.
Talking at these times is discouraged. This is not a time for frivolity.
Sometimes a man known as a Muki'q - may be invited to the house to recite the prayer, or a tape of the Qu'ran may be played. Sometimes parts of the Qu ran may be allocated to different people, and chanted until the whole Qu'ran has been recited.
Reciting the Qu'ran and praying (D'ah) is considered important at this time as Muslims believe that the deceased is now being questioned by God.
In the Majelis you will be offered tea and coffee, or, in Qatar, sometimes both. The coffee wil probably be Qahwa sa'da: coffee without milk. After finishing your drink, you may leave. You may find that your visit only lasts a few minutes. Nevertheless, your gesture of respect will be greatly appreciated.